This certainly isn’t the most important thing currently going on with the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason, but it’s another barb to a team that has taken many of them since winning its third Stanley Cup in the last six seasons.
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Former backup goaltender Antti Raanta recently spoke with the newspaper Satakunnan Kansa in his home nation, Finland. He had some very unsavory things to say about the Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville. The article is here (though it’s in Finnish, and I can’t figure out how to get it switched to English; if you can, you get to read the whole article!), and Yahoo! Sports helpfully plucked some of the most interesting quotes from the piece:
“I was really hoping Nashville would beat us in four games and I could get back to Finland. I was (so pissed off) about how Chicago was treating me.”
“I noticed that coach didn’t like me, in that position it is pretty difficult to fight the windmills.”
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It’s worth noting, before we dig into this, that Raanta had his day with the Cup in late July. It didn’t seem as though he was willing to turn that down in spite of the feelings he stated to Satakunnan Kansa.
Raanta played in 14 games last season, starting 12, and recorded seven wins with a .936 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average. Despite the stats (albeit in limited playing time), he was bumped down the depth chart in favor of Scott Darling as the season went on. Raanta saw no action in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs while Darling appeared in Chicago’s first six games.
Chicago Sun-Times Chicago Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazerus has provided some potential background for this on his Twitter account:
Sticking with the local media, several reporters have expressed surprise over Raanta’s comments (including Lazerus and Comcast SportsNet’s Tracey Myers), as Raanta always seemed to come off as a pleasant guy who was a team player through and through.
Raanta was traded to the New York Rangers around the time of the NHL draft for minor league forward Ryan Haggerty, ending the relationship between Raanta and the Blackhawks. But it took more than two months for Raanta to go public with his apparent past unhappiness with the Blackhawks.
So what does it mean? Not a whole lot. It comes off as sour grapes, and it’s understandable to some extent. The guy was working hard and at times looked better than starter Corey Crawford before he was suddenly dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart. On top of that, he spent a great amount of time with the Black Aces, as Lazerus says above, instead of playing hockey, which is probably bothersome to a hockey player. Also, being under Coach Q isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, as the guy can be a little rough around the edges and make some interesting roster moves.
What likely happens here is Raanta comes out saying his comments were taken out of context (thanks to our own Keith Schultz for that suggestion), says he enjoyed his time with the Blackhawks and loves the fans of Chicago, and that’s the end of it. Frankly, it’d be more surprising if he didn’t follow this up with anything, or if he came out in full support of the article. But if those are his true feelings, he shouldn’t have to hide them anymore.
I still think we can say thanks to Raanta for being a capable fill-in goaltender and wish him luck in New York (unless he’s facing the Blackhawks).
UPDATE: It appears Lazerus got in touch with Raanta this afternoon, and the goaltender denied having said anything negative toward the Blackhawks and/or Q.
Well, this was entertaining. Make of it what you will.
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